Sunday, April 12, 2009
By Tariq Butt
ISLAMABAD: Close relatives of well-connected personalities in the Sindh government have either been inducted or taken on deputation as deputy superintendents of police (DSPs) from other government departments in the Sindh police, it is learnt.
Rizwan Soomro, Shiraz Sheikh and Zameer Abbasi, who have been shifted to the Police department without advertising the posts or going through the prescribed procedure, are currently getting training at the National Police Academy (NPA) Islamabad, a source told The News.
These officers also confirmed to this correspondent that they were undergoing the necessary training at the NPA.
One of these lucky ones is the brother of Sindh Law Minister Ayaz Soomro; another is a relative of MB Abbasi, a leading banker and a close confidant of President Asif Ali Zardari, and yet another is the son of Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police Asghar Shaikh.
They were either inducted or taken on deputation in the Sindh police with the approval of the competent authority, Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah in this case.
Another source said that Sindh Chief Secretary Fazlur Rehman has written a letter to the provincial Inspector General of Police (IGP), Sultan Salahuddin Babar Khattak, saying that these officers were getting “unauthorised” training at the NPA as their induction in the Sindh police on deputation was not according to the law and rules.
“How and why have these officials been sent to the NPA when they have not been shifted to the police department as per the mandatory procedure?” he asked.
The IGP did not respond to the telephonic message dropped with his personal staff in Karachi. Law Minister Ayaz Soomro was no different.
However, two of the inductees or deputationists confirmed during a chat with this correspondent their blood relations with highly placed people in the Sindh Government. One of them, feeling perhaps less resourceful than others, said he would certainly become a victim of a possible shunting out, if these cases were played up.
But they said they have been done no favour as they were recruited in the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) after they passed the tough examination of the Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC) for grade 17.
After the NAB plunged into doldrums, they said, they decided to go to other departments for better service prospects.
One of them said a total of 17,000 candidates had appeared in the FPSC examination for recruitment in the NAB, out of which just 400 had passed the written test. Of them only 59 sailed through the interview and psychological test. They were among these lucky ones.
Shiraz Sheikh was serving in the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) from where he has now landed in the Sindh police.
When contacted, Sindh Information Minister Shazia Marri told The News that blood relations of the recent inductees in the police department or those having been given out of turn promotions with any provincial minister or other high-ups was not the criterion that the chief executive of the province, Syed Qaim Ali Shah, took into consideration while taking these decisions.
“It was only the merit and the rules, governing the service structure that played the fundamental role,” she said and emphasized that the rules allowed the chief minister to award the police officers in different shapes, who performed better.
Shazia Marri said the close relations of any officer should not be an obstacle in his or her promotion. “No political influence has been exercised in making any new inductions or out of turn promotions in the police department,” she said adding that there were recent two decisions of the Sindh cabinet, which provide that there would be no extensions and re-employment, but where the chief minister feels that some expert is required for a specific job, he can hire him.
Senior police officials, serving in Sindh, say on condition of anonymity that Riaz Soomro, another brother of the Sindh law minister, who is presently personal staff officer (PSO) to Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, too was inducted in the police department from the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) a few years back. Before that, he was in the Pakistan Narcotics Control Board. Now, he is superintendent of police (SP) and is eyeing the next grade for his considerable seniority.
A source said that Riaz Soomro has a court order to back up his shifting to the police department. The other PSO to the Sindh chief minister, Akram Abro, has also got out of turn promotion from DSP to SP.
Similarly, both the PSOs to former Chief Minister Dr Arbab Ghulam Rahim - Ali Raza and Ijaz Shaikh - had also got out of turn promotions from their boss from the ranks of DSP to SP.
There is a long list of out of turn promotions ordered by successive chief ministers of Sindh, according to police officials.
They say that Zafar Dherejo, a brother of Sindh minister Jam Saifullah Dherejo and PPP MPA Ikram Dherejo, was also recently given out of turn promotion to the rank of the SP. Similarly, Zulfikar Talpur son of Nawab Abdul Ghani Talpur, PPP MNA, was given a similar promotion to the rank of SP.
When contacted, Ghani Talpur confirmed to this correspondent that his son was given out of turn promotion but for his exceptional work in crime detection in specific cases. He denied that his political position led to Zulfikar’s out of turn promotion.
Minister Jam Saifullah was not available for comments despite repeated efforts. He also did not respond to an SMS “Jam sb., plz call” on his cell sent by this correspondent.
“If you are PSO to any chief minister of Sindh, everything is milk and honey for you in the context of fast-track promotions in the police department,” a senior police officer remarked to The News and quoted instances of similar elevations of previous PSOs to previous provincial chief executives.
Another police official said more than 30 DSPs have been given out of turn promotions for having right connections and relations and 70 inspectors promoted as DSPs the same way over the past few years.
Even one of the recent inductees admitted that there have been abundant inductions and out-of-turn promotions in Sindh police.
Now, the Sindh High Court (SHC) has directed the provincial government to re-examine all the cases of out of turn promotions in the provincial police department after making certain legal provisions.
The police officer said that performance, morale, discipline and service conditions of Sindh police have been adversely affected by out of turn promotions on political grounds. The successive provincial chief ministers have resorted to abuse of their discretion and a number of favourites have been allowed to be promoted bypassing hundreds of deserving officers, although the general principle for promotion to the next higher rank is seniority-cum-fitness and the promotions are done by a duly constituted board to ensure fairness and transparency, he said.
Through the Sindh Civil Servants (Amendment) Ordinance 2002, Section 9-A was added to the Sindh Civil Servants Act 1973. The chief minister, at that time, granted out of turn promotions by using section 9-A on the basis of favouritism, political loyalties, nepotism and other extraneous conditions in flagrant violation of the spirit of the Act.
A senior bureaucrat, presently serving in Sindh, described Section 9-A as the “killer of merit”, which should be scrapped.
For judicious exercise of the discretion conferred under section 9-A, the Sindh Government issued a notification No SOR1 (SGA&CD) 2-10/2005 on Feb 10, 2005, which added Rule 8-B to the Sindh Civil Servants (Appointment, Promotion and Transfer) Rules 1973. This rule laid down criteria for recommending a civil servant for out of turn promotion or any other reward under Section 9-A. This required the recommendation to be placed before a committee consisting of the chief secretary as chairman and secretaries of Services, Law, Home and IGP as members.
The official said out of turn promotion was to be granted not more than once in the entire service. When a civil servant was to be granted such promotion he was to maintain his seniority in the lower grade and was not to be promoted to higher post until his senior in inter se seniority was promoted to that post. Regrettably the then Chief Ministers Ali Mohammad Mehar and Arbab Rahim allegedly openly violated rule 8-B.
He said when Arbab Rahim wanted to promote his PSO, DSP Ali Raza, the committee constituted under rule 8-B found him unsuitable for promotion to the next higher rank. However, he revoked the rule 8-B to clear the obstacle in promoting his PSO on flimsy grounds of a routine duty performed by the officer that too many years back.
The police official said the recommendation of a police officer serving as DSP in the hometown of Chief Minister Ali Mohammad Mehar was not initiated by the police department but the DSP himself submitted an application to the chief minister directly asking for promotion to the rank of SP.
The source said that a police officer connected with former Senate chairman also approached the then chief minister directly and got two promotions consecutively jumping hundreds of his seniors. Initially he was given accelerated promotion from Inspector to DSP and within a very short span of time he was accorded another out of turn promotion to the rank of SP.
Yet another officer was granted out of turn promotion on account of detecting and arresting accused in a blind case. No act of gallantry or risk to his life was involved. The committee constituted by the government opposed his promotion and recommended only cash reward, the source said.
Another officer’s promotion was opposed by even the police department.
The Sindh chief secretary was constrained to remark on the summary for his promotion: ‘Discretionary powers entail greater responsibility, and these powers have to be exercised judiciously and sparingly. The Government of Sindh has been little too liberal in grant of out of turn promotions specially in the police department. Without taking away any of the factors in favour of allowing the benefit, I would submit that this is on the verge of becoming a common practice in so many cases ... CM Sindh may please decline for the present.” Despite this terse advice, the officer got his promotion from DSP to SP. Similarly, another DSP, serving as PSO to Chief Minister Liaquat Ali Jatoi, was given such promotion.
The official said an officer of the Intelligence Bureau managed to get himself inducted in the Sindh police in grade 18 directly. He was not content with this favour and wanted to climb up the ladder without waiting for his turn. The chief minister expanded the provincial police cadre beyond grade 18 and he was promoted to grade 19 out of turn and in violation of rules.
Before joining the IB, this officer had appeared in the CSS competition examination in 1988 from Hyderabad centre and remained unsuccessful. Even if he had qualified and had been high enough on merit list to be allocated to the Police Service of Pakistan he could not have made it to the high police position in that brief span of service.
Senior police officials say that hundreds of officers were also promoted out of turn from sub-inspector to inspector.
They say that this has demoralised hardworking officers who were waiting to be promoted on their turn in accordance with seniority list.
Since hundreds were promoted out of turn very few vacancies are left for normal promotions consequently deserving senior officers were denied their rightful promotions to accommodate their juniors out of turn, they claim.